April 01, 2011

Bret Jones featured in New Play Festival

Native American New Play Festival flush with good stories

By Brandy McDonnell BamThe staged reading of Jones’ “An Inside Strait” is set for 4 p.m. Saturday, and the reading of Minnesota writer and professor Diane Glancy’s “Salvage” will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday. As co-finalists of this year’s festival, their works were chosen from submissions from around the United States and Canada. After the event, organizers will pick which play will become a full production at next year’s festival.

“An Inside Strait” follows two Muscogee (Creek) men employed at the tribe’s Tulsa casino. One works as a security guard, the other as a dealer, and both are struggling to make ends meet. Reasoning that the house winnings are ultimately tribal funds, they plot to rob the casino.
And:The Lindsay native, who is director of theater at Wichita State University in Kansas, doesn’t just pen American Indian stories. Jewel Box Theatre staged his uproarious Shakespearean farce “Thee and Thou” in 2009. But when writing American Indian plays, he prefers to explore contemporary issues.

“But I really focus on the story first,” he said. “I try to stay away from jumping on one side or the other. I just try to tell this story, with this as the backdrop. And if it stirs up in any conversation, then that’s OK.”

Last year’s inaugural Native American New Play Festival included a staged reading of his “War Paint,” a drama set in modern-day Muskogee around Bacone College. It follows a Creek girl who is determined to prove herself in college but discovers she doesn’t have the identity she thought she did and embarks on a search for her heritage.

“I’m a lot more interested in what is going on with Native Americans right now, real issues, real problems, instead of doing history pieces,” he said. “Some of those scripts to me—and I’m not trying to be uber-critical—glorify too much and don’t look at all the wrinkles.”
Comment:  For more on the New Play Festival, see Cherokee Dirty Laundry Debuts. For more on Native plays, see An Italian American Indian and The Frybread Queen Reviewed.


Anonymous said...

I have to wonder, is the misspelling deliberate?

Of course, the title is good for other reasons: An inside straight is traditionally a sucker bet.

Rob said...

I'm sure it was deliberate--a play on "dire straits." The characters face an inside (dire) strait in a casino with inside straights.